Can I Get a Witness

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"Can I Get a Witness"
Single by Marvin Gaye
from the album Greatest Hits
B-side "I'm Crazy 'Bout My Baby"
Released September 1963
Format 7" single
Recorded July 17, 1963; Hitsville U.S.A.
(Detroit, Michigan)
Genre R&B, soul, rock 'n' roll
Length 2:53
Label Tamla
T 54087
Writer(s) Holland–Dozier–Holland
Producer(s) Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier
Marvin Gaye singles chronology
"Pride and Joy"
(1963)
"Can I Get a Witness"
(1963)
"You're a Wonderful One"
(1964)

"Can I Get a Witness" is a song composed by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland and produced by Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier as a song for American recording vocalist Marvin Gaye, who issued the record on Motown's Tamla imprint in September 1963.

Recording[edit]

Recorded at Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. studios on July 17, 1963, the song's lyrical writer Eddie Holland discussed going over the song once with Gaye, who had complained to the producers about singing their songs above his vocal range, something he would later complain about during recording sessions for his rendition of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine".

According to Holland, once Gaye heard Holland perform the song to him, he nodded and stated, "okay I'm ready" to a perplexed Holland, who often had to work over the song a few times with other artists who recorded their songs. According to Holland, Gaye recorded the song in one take, which impressed Holland, his brother and Dozier. Holland would later call Gaye "the most versatile vocalist I ever worked with."

On the song, backed by a boogie woogie-styled piano riff played by Funk Brothers pianist Earl Van Dyke, Gaye performs the song in a gospel harmony with members of The Supremes and Holland-Dozier-Holland backing him up on background vocals. Gaye performs the song mostly in a tenor range but occasionally sings in both the baritone and falsetto ranges.

Release[edit]

Released in September 1963 as the follow-up to Gaye's top ten hit, "Pride and Joy", the song peaked at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also became one of Gaye's earlier international hit singles, making a buzz at the United Kingdom, primarily among dance clubs in northern England, particularly in London and Leeds, and also charted in France where it peaked at number 29 on its chart. Gaye performed the song live at the The T.A.M.I. Show and lip-synching the song while appearing on the Hollywood A Go-Go in 1964 and also on the BBC show, Ready, Steady, Go! in 1965.

Personnel[edit]